V&A Museum of Childhood (London) & National Doll Day

As many of you may know, we are a GREAT FAN of London and all the things that London has an offer to do with the Kids. Yes, London is busy and YES, London is expensive.. but if you plan your day right, you can have a fabulous day out at little cost. As “Sarf Londoners”, one place we had not had the time to visit was the V&A’s Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. When the lovely PR at Baby Born invited us to come along for National Doll Day, I thought it was finally the opportunity to make the “trek”.

It turns out, that it wasn’t much of a trek at all – as Bethnal Green is on the very handy and super fast CENTRAL LINE and the Museum of Childhood itself is only a stone’s through from the tube.

ENTRY IS FREE too, which is always a bonus.

Museum of ChildhoodWe had a fabulous time. I have to say that the Museum was much much MUCH better than expected. There is a great permanent exhibition of toys throughout history (until very recently too – we spotted things from 2013!). The kids adored see the toys and seeing if they could find things that they have or “already know from Daddy’s old toys”. The Museum is also “handily” interspersed with little activity stations and things to do – from a sensory area, to pretend tea, to robot mechanics and even a Sand Pit! The kids can dress up and create a puppet show or go on rocking horses.

If that isn’t enough, the Museum (on a Sunday), as lots of activity sessions for kids – we heard one singing session going and caught the Shadow Puppet show too.

As part of our day with the team at Baby Born, we had a go at Paper Doll making and playing with the new dolls out on the market. Though my kids were very shy at the Paper Doll making event itself, we took ours home and 2 weeks on, we have been colouring and cutting more and more and MORE paper dolls (printed off the internet). I am amazed at quite how much they have enjoyed this little arty project and for how long it has been going on!

Here is a little video we made about the Museum!

Such a fabulous day out and fantastic way to celebrate National Doll Day!

Thank you for luring us to Bethnal Green to finally visit this amazing museum and for the chance to get to play with all the latest Baby Born dolls!

Days Out With Kids – Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum (London)

As we finally hit our stride this Summer holidays we are ready to go out on adventures and explore. There SO MANY things for the kids to do and see in London. And as “city dwellers”, I particularly enjoy seeking out activities for the kids that brings them closer to the wonders of Nature! One such Day Out, is a visit to the National History Musuem‘s Sensational Butterflies.

Sensational butterflies-037-310315

You are invited to “Step through the tropical greenery as the exhibition takes you on the transformational journey of one of nature’s most incredible life cycles. Following the trail leads you past munching caterpillars, jewel-like chrysalises and interactive displays, while hundreds of striking butterflies and moths flutter above your head.”

We have had the pleasure and amazement of observing the Butterfly Life Cycle before (you can order “caterpillar kits” online!) – but we never cease to marvel at the sheer wonder of it. This year, we didn’t have the opportunity to “observe the Butterflies” at home, so it was nice for us to go to this butterfly exhibition. The kids were excited to see the different Life Cycle stages right before the eyes.. My daughter actually saw a butterfly hatching (the others missed it). In some ways the experience here of seeing – caterpillars, cocoons (and so many different ones) and final butterflies, was more exciting as they didn’t have to wait days between the stages! The magic was happening right in front of us in the short time we were there.

AT Scientist butterfly House -008-150413

The children were also delighted that the wonderful butterflies, would land on our rucksacks and on one occasion on one of the children’s heads – staying there for AGES! It was quite magical (and looked like a butterfly fascinator!).

This exhibition is truly beautiful, spectacular and memorable. I love that not only can you simply enjoy the beauty of butterflies, but that you also get to learn about butterflies and their life cycles – see and observe for yourself. Learn about “friends and foe” and what butterflies and caterpillars eat. Right up close to nature. As kids that grown up in a city, these connections are so important to them (and me as their parent).

If you are considering a visit to London this Summer, I totally recommend you come along to the Sensational Butterflies, it is too beautiful to be missed. Combine it with a visit to the Dinosaurs at the National History Museum.. and then if you have time, head over to Hyde Park and check out the gorgeous Serpentine Gallery and the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. The combination of these things makes for a FANTASTIC family day, creating treasured memories.

Disclaimer – we were invited along on a press trip to see the Sensational Butterflies.

Dinosaur Ice Excavation

The kids have finally  broken up for their Summer holidays (hooray) and though we have lots of “little things” planned, we also have a lot of time to spend at home (and so it should be, I think kids these days DESPERATELY need some down time and time to GET BORED!!!). Every so often we like to jazz things up a little.. last week, we had a go at Water Balloon Pinata.. this week, we are having fun with some ICE – the kids are doing their very own DINO ICE EXCAVATION.Cool down with some fun Dino Ice ExcavationThis is SUCH an easy activity to set up and the kids will get lots of fun out of it. All you need is a tupper ware, some plastic toys (we got some small plastic dinosaurs), popped them in some water and put it in the freezer overnight.Cool down with some fun Dino Ice Excavation - Summer Fun for KidsThe next day the kids attacked it with a stone and released the dinosaurs from their Ice Age prison.

This activity has SO MANY learning opportunities –

1) Learn all about different dinosaur names

2) Discuss the ice age and what happened all those years ago

3) Practice counting and adding, as you “release” the dinosaurs

4) Practce colour recognition

5) strengthen fine motor skills

So.. what are you waiting for? What is not to love……

What how much fun my daughter had with this activity!

Fun with Ice - discover the ice age with the kids with this simple activity full of learning opportunities - DINO Ice Exploration

Calling all Class Reps

Classlist.com – A new tool for Class Reps, PTAs and parents: “Easier than email, better than Facebook, different to the parent portal”

pta reps

“It was mortifying! The newest boy in the class was the only one not invited to a birthday party, because the mother arranging the party had used an out-of-date classlist. The poor boy thought he had been left out deliberately. Now that we use Classlist.com new families are included on the classlists as soon as they register their details.” says Nicky, a Class Rep in Oxford. “As Class Rep I can send messages confident that they will reach the whole class, without checking that I’ve included new people, or cutting and pasting email addresses”, Nicky added.
Classlist.com’s founders are two mothers, both of whose children have moved school several times both in the UK and abroad, as they have moved around. “Getting to know other children and parents, arranging pick-ups and play dates, and understanding the school calendar has been a very hit and miss affair. Sometimes there would be a super-organised class rep with an excel or word document where we could add our details to a classlist. Sometimes there wasn’t, or the list was wrong or out of date, or we lost it. And then next year, the same again… for three children each. ”says Co-founder, Susan Burton.
“I have been both a Class Rep and PTA Committee Member, and you can waste a lot of time trying to communicate with people, whether it is to ask for help with fundraising, to tell them about a coffee or ask about homework. We felt there must be a better way to connect with other parents”, says Susan’s Co-Founder, Clare Wright.
Classlist is an Oxford based service, enabling PTAs, Class Reps and parents at their school to communicate easily using up-to-date contact details, to create interest-based communities, and to organize events. Parents register, share and update whatever details they feel comfortable with, and can transfer their profile easily to other classes as their kids move on.

class rep
Members have fully authenticated access to a private and secure site with a set of tools all aimed at making life easier. The site is mobile responsive, for usage on-the-go, and has been operational for over a year in schools in the UK and Australia. Classlist.com is Data Protection Registered, and personal details are never shared with advertisers or anyone else.
PTAs also find Classlist.com enormously useful when making use of the newsletter tool, which automatically uses the the latest classlists to communicate with all parents. “We just had no way of sending a message to all parents ourselves before”, says one PTA Chairman. Classlist also makes it easier for the PTA to raise money, enabling you to manage paid events and collect money from parents. The site can be a valuable source of fundraising for the PTA, which benefits from revenue from ads on the school’s site.
Parents and schools are now signing up to Classlist’s new Schoolrun share service available for the new school year September 2015. This will enable parents to use a tool on Classlist to find other families at the same school who live near them and want to share the school run.

class lists and reps

The schoolrun share service is an extension of the classlist and social network service to parents and schools. “Parents using classlist.com have been verified to join their school’s Classlist community, which is exclusive to parents at their school. They already participate in class and year group discussions and attend social events, such as coffee mornings that have been arranged on our platform. Offering ‘schoolrun’ sharing to parents within this trusted community makes sense, whether it be organising bike buddies, bus buddies, walking trains or sharing the driving”” explains Susan Burton.
“We have achieved our aim of ‘Parent Life Easier, School Communities stronger’ by helping people connect, whether it be for a school fundraising event, a party, playdate, or lift home. Classlist has been described by a parent as ‘Easier than email, better than Facebook, different to the parent portal”, says Clare Wright.

Classlist is set to take more schools by storm this September. Get your school’s private web app set up now!


Days Out in London with Kids

If you are in London this Summer (2015) and are looking for things to do with the kids, you are IN FOR A TREAT!

Each year the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park hosts an exhibition, as well as a fabulous architectural structure. They choose an architect that does NOT already have a building design in London to come up with a design and build. This year they have a Spanish couple called Selgas Cano and they have come up with this most awe inspiring design. It is simply BEAUTIFUL!

Plan in enough time to sit down for a nice drink and cake (unless it is a hot day, then take a picnic and sit under a tree in the shade).

I took the kids along (nearest tube via High Street Kensington, but if you have time, enter the park via any gate and go for a walk in this lovely green space).

Serpentine Pavilion by Selgas Cano in Hyde Park - Serpentine Gallery 2015And here is a video with us walking around and through the Serpentine Pavilion 2015